Affections (Rodrigo Hasbun, 2015)

There is more to what is being said in Rodrigo Hasbun’s novel that reviews the convulsion of Latin America

Affections, by Rodrigo Hasbún, translated by Sophie Hughes, Pushkin, RRP£9.99, 160 pages
Rodrigo Hasbún, translated by Sophie Hughes, Pushkin, RRP£9.99, 160 pages

In Rodrigo Hasbun’s (Cochabamba, Bolivia 1981) The Affections, it is convenient to emphasize, from the outset, the extreme conciseness of a prose that suggests more of what is being accounted. What is said and what remains latent helps to ensure that gaps are never subtractions, but are rather zones of uncertainty. The narrative covers a period that surpasses, with the epilogue, fifty years of tribulation of the members of the Ertl family, German refugees in Bolivia after World War II. The patriarch, Hans, who had served as cameraman at the Olympiad for Leni Riefenstahl was the first to film underwater. In exile, his eagerness for adventure leads him to become entangled, dragging the family, with a sick woman, on an expedition in search of the Inca city of Paitití, hidden in the Amazon jungle. The anxiety of the unknown, with its point of imprecision and insanity, will infect their daughters in different ways, and one of them, Monika, will later be forced, after Che’s death, to political radicalism, engaging in actions that will dismember the family to devastation. All these are narrated by diverse voices, with successive counterpoints in which. In addition to the daughters, their lovers and husbands participate, each one yielding a testimony of distressing elegance.
Family elegance

Hasbún uses these European emigres to recount, with a less idealistic appreciation, the political upheaval that shook Latin America in the 1960s with revolutionary movements, and the difficulty of harmonizing the consequences of political and sentimental decisions. The novel does not answer all the questions it raises; Rather, the author chooses to inform the reader of the process of dissolution, where affective bonds persist in memory and keep them hoplessly alive but also useless, for memory, as it is said in the epilogue, is not a safe place: “There, too, things are disfigured and are lost. There we also end up getting away from the people we love. ”

The Affections. Rodrigo Hasbún. Literature Random House. Barcelona, 2015. 144 pages. 15.90 euros.

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